Today is June 29, 2007. Me and my family returned a few weeks ago from the Jamestown Quadricentennial Celebration: A Celebration of God's Providential History but on by Vision Forum. I am writing this letter to remind myself why we need to remember historical anniversaries, and what I want to tell my children and grandchildren in 2057, the next great anniversary of Jamestown. I have three things to say: first, why we should remember Jamestown, or any history. Second, some important things to remember about Jamestown's history and third, what we did in Jamestown at this year's celebration. I hope to inspire my children to remember history, and I want to tell the stories of my childhood.
History is God's story. We can learn very much about God just by studying history. We can learn about his Providence, and how he uses men and events to work his purposes. It is very important to remember what God has done in history. We need to be a grateful people, who are grateful for what God does in the past. We also need to learn from our forefather's mistakes, and do better than them. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 32:7 "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee." I think that is important to rember our history.
There are the "Five Freedom Pillars of Jamestown" spoke on at the Jamestown Quadricenntenial:
The settlers came to Jamestown to evangelize the Indians. Here is what the forgotten visionary of the Jamestown settlement, Richard Hakluyt said:
“Wee shall by planting there enlarge the glory of the gospel, and from England plante sincere religion, and provide a safe and a sure place to receave people from all partes of the worlds that are forced to flee for the truth of Gods worde.”
The 1606 charter that allowed them to come over to the New World said this:
"We greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherence of so noble a Work, which may, by the Provience of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, propogating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God, and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and to a settled and quiet Government... "
Even though in 2007 the modern "historians" of Jamestown say that they came here for money, that was secondary to evangelizing the Indians. Richard Hakluyt also said that the other plantations did not succeed because they were not planted for a godly purpose. It is important that this was their reason to come here.
In the Jamestown colony they conducted Christian Worship to the God of the Bible. Their first pastor was Reverend Robert Hunt. John Smith called him "our honest, religious and courageous divine. " One of the first building that they built was a church. Before they had a church they conducted services under a sail. That shows how important Christian worship was to them. Many of the Jamestown settlers, including Capt. John Smith, were Puritans, those who wished to purify the church of it's ungodly practices.
Bible-Based Common Law
Jamestown was the foundation of the Biblical common law in America. Biblical common law is the law that we get from the Bible. These are things like "Thou shalt not murder", "He who does not work should not eat" and lots of other things. They believed in the Biblical Common law at Jamestown. They go this idea from the Puritains, and ultimately from the Bible.
Republican Representative Government
In 1619 the Jamestown settlers made the first representative government in North America. There was a governor appointed by the King, and one house representing the Virgina Company, and a another house elected by the people in America. At this time, England was moving away from Republican Government. The Jamestown settlers made a republican government because they were Puritans. The Puritans believed in restraining the absolute power of a few men. England did this, but they strayed from it. The Puritans got their ideas from the reading the Bible.
There are also many very important men to remember from the history of Jamestown.
Richard Hakluyt was the visionary for the Jamestown colony. It started when he was a young man and he went to his cousin's house. His cousin (also named Richard Hakluyt) was a collected of old books and maps. He showed Richard a map and then explained to him about the maps and what they showed. Then he shared this verse from the Bible with him:
Richard Hakluyt saw that God was displayed in the world. He decided to learn about God through geography.
He helped with the settlements of both Roanoke and Jamestown. One of the main ways that he helped was to write books to encourage people to come to the New World.
This man was the politician for the Jamestown Colony. He was very influential in government, and obtained the charter for Virgina. God used him in government in many ways. As Dr. Jelhe talked about at the Quadricenntenial Celebration, it is surprising that the King would allow such a godly man in politics, but by God's Providence he did.
Captain John Smith
Captain John Smith was the most important leader of the colony. When they first were coming over on the ship, the leaders became angry with Smith and locked him up in chains. They had been given a sealed box with the names of the members of the governing council of Jamestown to be opened when they arrived. When they landed, they opened it up and found that John Smith's name was on the list, so they had to let him out of the chains. The council elected the president, and then after several presidents either died or where thrown of the council, John Smith was elected president. When he was President, he made everyone, even the gentlemen work. His policy was that "he who does not work shall not eat". He saved the colony from destruction. He had to leave the colony rather early, because he was injured by a gunpowder accident . Simth was very important in Indian realtions. He was kind,yet firm to the Indians. He was the only one in the colony respected by the Indians. They would not attack him.
Another thing Smith did was to write books. One of the most interesting was his autobiography. His early life was very adventurous. He traveled the world looking for adventure. He had some very exciting stories, including killing three Turks one after another in single handed combat. His epitaph tells some of his great deeds.
"Sometime Governour of Virginia
and Admiral of New England
who departed this life the 21st of June 1631
Here lyes one conquered, that hath conquered Kings,
Subdu’d large Territories, and done Things
Which to the world impossible would seem
But that the Truth is held in more esteem.
Shall I report his former service done
In honour of his God and Christendom?
How that he did divide from Pagans three
Their heads and lives, Types of his Chivalry?
Or shall I talk of his Adventures Since,
Done in Virginia, that large Continent:
How that he subdu’d Kings unto his yoke,
And made those heathen flee, as wind doth smoke:
And made their land, being of so large a Station
An habitation for our Christian Nation
Our god is glorify’d, their Want supply’d
Which else for Necessaries must have dy’d.
But what avils his Conquests, now he lyes
Interr’d in earth, a Prey to Worms and Flyes?
O may his soul in sweet Elysium sleep,
Until the Keeper that all Souls doth keep,
Return to Judgement, and that after thence,
With angels he may his Recompense."
Some people, reading Smith's writings think that he made them up. Many things he says we are not able to verify. But we can find no historical error in the things that we can research, even things that at the time when Smith was writting them could not have researched. So his writings were true in points that he could have made up. I think that he did not make them up.
In Smith's writings, as Mr. Morecraft talked about at the conference, we learn that Smith was a Puritan. He talked very much about the Providence of God in his writings, and how God saved him and the colony from destruction.
Reverend Robert Hunt
Robert Hunt was the first pastor of the colony. He was sent over by Richard Hakluyt because he could not come in person. When the ship first set sail, they were stuck on the coast of England for weeks within sight of Hunt's home. Hunt was also very sick. The unbelievers on the boat mocked him, but he stood firm and came to the New World. He did not live very long, and died in the spring of 1608.
Smith was very impressed with him. He called him "our honest, religious and courageous divine." All of the colony praised this man. Smith says again, "Our factions were oft qualified, and our wants and greater extremities so comforted that they seemed easie in comparison of what we endured after his memorable death...."
John Rolfe was one of the common men of the colony. What he is most famous for is that he trained Pocahontas to be a Christian, and then married her. After that he became very wealthy as a tobacco farmer, and went with his wife to England. There she was treated like a queen, and when her and Rolfe were going to return to Virgina, she fell sick and died. But before she died, she had a son named Thomas.
Another thing that Rolfe did actually saved the colony from destruction After Smith left, the colony ran out of supplies. Several ships came, but they had been wrecked, and did not have any supplies. So they decided to take the colony home to England. As they sailed out of the harbor, the colonists wanted to burn the small town. But John Rolfe convinced them not to destroy the place. And then as they sailed out of the harbor, they decided to spend the night before going out into the open sea. But then in the morning they saw a fleet commanded by Lord Delaware. They returned to the town and were repopulated with the new settlers, and were given supplies, enough for all to eat for an entire year. If John Rolfe had not saved the houses, life would have been much harder. If they had not decided to spend the night, Lord Delaware would have found the colony abandoned. This shows the Providence of God very well.